When Final Fantasy XIV started surging in popularity last summer, I decided to check it out to see what all the hype was about. I was immediately hooked on the intriguing stories, memorable characters, engaging combat system, and the plethora of homages to the franchise’s legacy. As a long-time Final Fantasy fan since Final Fantasy IX on the PlayStation 1, these last few months were an incredible journey. Now that journey will reach a new chapter in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker.
This expansion promises to conclude the saga between the forces of Hydaelyn and Zodiark that has been ongoing since Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It also features new areas to explore, new mounts to collect, two new Jobs and a new race to play as, major changes to existing Jobs, and much more.
How does it fare? Well, as with most MMORPG expansions, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of hours’ worth of content to cover, with more on the way very soon through post-launch patches. As such, this will be an early impressions preview that will cover the first 20 hours of the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. Without further ado, let’s begin.
The Warrior of Light faces their greatest challenge yet
After the events of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, the Garlean Empire has fallen into disarray. It has been torn apart by civil war and from the chaos emerges the Telophoroi, a splinter group led by Garlemald’s crown prince, Zenos yae Galvus, and his cohort Fandaniel. Their goal is to bring about “The Final Days,” an apocalyptic event that almost destroyed the world eons ago.
Their plan revolves around erecting demonic towers all over the planet that mind-controls anyone near them, while summoning forth horrific monsters to wreak havoc. Our goal as the Warrior of Light is to find a way to destroy these towers, bring Zenos and Fandaniel to justice, and prevent “The Final Days” from coming to pass.
Despite the dire premise, the story of Endwalker starts off relatively calm. The first 10 hours focus on introducing the new areas and characters you will interact with, sprinkled with some light-hearted moments of comedy and wholesome bonding with your NPC allies.
However, once I completed the first dungeon, the story started kicking into high gear. Without going into spoilers, questions that have gone unanswered for years finally get explanations, fan-favorite characters get a chance to shine, and the stakes get raised to astronomical levels. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the game’s story will unfold and what surprises it has in store.
Reap in the new and improved Jobs
As for gameplay, it follows the same routine of its previous expansion, Shadowbringers. To unlock new features and content, you will have to progress through the main scenario quests and role quests. In between those quests, you will be taking on side missions, fight through dungeons, and undertake Trials which are elaborate boss fights. Here are some impressions of a few of my favorite jobs that have undergone significant changes.
For Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, I decided to tackle the main scenario quests as the Warrior. It was my first job when I started playing Final Fantasy XIV, so I decided it would be appropriate to finish this saga as one. The Paladin may be the poster job of this expansion, but I feel Warrior is going to be my main Tank job from now on, primarily because I love the changes made to it.
For starters, Upheaval and Onslaught no longer cost Beast Gauge. I’ve always liked these moves, but using them meant sacrificing resources needed for more powerful attacks like Fell Cleave, forcing the player to forego these moves entirely. Warrior now feels less restrictive in its flow, since I can freely use these moves whenever I want and weave them in between Fell Cleave, Decimate, and Infuriate, which are all fun and spectacular abilities to wield. Granted, it doesn’t change the fact you’re still going to be using Inner Release-Fell Cleave combo for optimal damage. But at least Warrior has more tools to use now in between those big burst windows aside from its 1-2-3 global cooldown attack combo for more gameplay variety.
The Warrior also gets a couple of quality-of-life changes that I appreciate. First off, using ranged attacks doesn’t break your combos anymore, so you can continue dealing damage while avoiding area-of-effect (AOE) attacks without losing your combo potencies and combo bonuses. Secondly, using your AOE global cooldown combo now grants you damage attack buffs instead of only extending them. This means that you’re no longer forced to do a single-target combo to activate your buffs when fighting groups of monsters, making initial combat setups much smoother.
By far, the changes I love most with Warrior are all the new self-healing effects added to Raw Intuition (which upgrades into the new Bloodwhetting ability), Shake it Off, Equilibrium, and Nascent Flash. I feel like an unstoppable berserker that shrugs off wounds and inspires the party to use their rage to push through their pain. I can’t wait to tackle the end-game content with this new and more powerful Warrior, which just showcases Square Enix’s thoughtful approach to evolving its job designs.
I also dabbled with the reworked Summoner and new Reaper jobs during these first 20 hours. When I learned of the Summoner’s massive rework months prior to Endwalker’s release, I purposefully left it at lower levels to see how it would play out for new players. After testing it out on low-level dungeons, I can confidently say the new Summoner is going to please newcomers as well as veterans.
The Summoner has received so much retooling that it may as well be a new Job. It is no longer a pet-based ranged magic user that constantly applies damage-over-time spells but instead a proper Final Fantasy-inspired Summoner. All the pet-based actions and damage-over-time spells have been removed and in their place are new spells that allow you to summon Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda to perform spectacular and powerful-looking attacks. After each summon, you gain the ability to cast single-target or AOE elemental attack spells depending on which summon you used. Between these damage burst windows, you will be blasting enemies with Ruin, Energy Drain, Fester spells, all of which do more damage and have reduced casting times.
This new Summoner feels faster-paced and more fun than the previous version. Even at lower levels, when you only have Carbuncle and the Egi “mini” versions of Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda, there’s rarely a moment where you aren’t summoning a creature. If this is what the new Summoner is like at level 50, I can’t imagine how much chaos I can cause when I unlock some of the more powerful beasts like Bahamut and Phoenix later on.
I also have very positive things to say about the Reaper class. Reaper is one of the two new jobs added in Endwalker, the other being the Sage. Reaper is a melee DPS Job that wields a massive scythe and calls forth a demonic being known as a Voidsent Avatar to aid you in battle.
The main game plan for Reaper is to slice and dice enemies with your scythe and reap their souls. After gathering enough souls, you can feed them to your Voidsent Avatar to perform devastating attacks. You can also let your Voidsent Avatar possess you and transform your body into an actual Grim Reaper at higher levels. In this form, you can unleash a maelstrom of dark magic and scythe attack combos that will leave your enemies begging for mercy.
I really enjoyed playing as a Reaper. It’s a highly mobile and flashy DPS class that looks complicated at first but becomes easy to grasp once you get the hang of its scythe and Voidsent Avatar rotations. When I was teleporting to avoid AOE attacks, while casting an instant ranged spell and then jumping back in, it felt like I was playing a fast-reacting action game rather than an MMORPG. That sentiment is reinforced once you unlock the ability to become one with your Voidsent Avatar. It feels reminiscent of the Devil Trigger transformation mechanic from Devil May Cry. And anything that reminds me of Devil May Cry in a fun way has my undivided attention.
Brace yourself for the Trials ahead
All these new job changes will be helpful in the battles to come because the enemies and bosses of Endwalker’s dungeons and rrials pull out all the stops. These monsters do not mess around, and they will test players on every mechanic they have learned throughout all of Final Fantasy XIV’s expansions. The game also throws in both new and old mechanics in innovative ways to catch veterans off guard.
Once you figure out their mechanics, boss fights become grandiose dances of death that are satisfying to master.
The first dungeon’s bosses, in particular, are a good example of this. They will throw out all sorts of AOE attacks and status effects to confuse your senses. However, they are presented with subtle visual cues that give players clues on how to deal with them. Once you figure out how they work, boss fights become grandiose dances of death that are satisfying to master.
The Main Scenario Quests are also a joy to experience as well. Like in previous expansions, the Main Scenario Quests feature solo instances where you fight alongside NPCs. I won’t get into the specifics of these instances; I will say they have a variety of epic, sometimes shocking missions that you won’t see coming. Speaking of NPCs, you can bring NPCs into dungeons if you so desire using the Trust system that was introduced in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.
This adventure is off to a promising start
Overall, I like what I see with Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker so far. The story begins calmly then quickly escalates, the dungeons and solo instances are engaging, the Warrior and Summoner jobs are more fun than ever, and the Reaper job has me hooked. This expansion is off to a great start, and I can’t wait to play more. If Endwalker continues its momentum, it will help solidify Final Fantasy XIV’s status as one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is now available for purchase on PC and Steam. Expect to see a full review of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker after its first post-game, eight-man raid, Pandaemonium, and its Savage-difficulty version are added in the future.
Rise up Warrior of Light
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
It’s now or never, as The Final Days draw near.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is the latest expansion to the critically acclaimed MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV. Wield the power of the new Reaper and Sages jobs, and fight to protect the world from The Final Days.